Minority Participation Critical to Health Care Development, Opinion Piece Says
"There is an urgent need to develop new therapeutic approaches for diseases that disproportionately impact" blacks, Hispanics and other groups, Nancy Bennett, professor of medicine and director of the University of Rochester Medical Center for Community Health, and Ann Dozier, associate professor in the department of community and preventive medicine, write in a Rochester Democrat and Chronicle opinion piece. There "is a growing body of evidence that suggests that individuals with different racial and ethnic backgrounds may respond differently to certain treatments," but "[u]nderrepresentation of population groups in health research hampers our ability to develop new ways to understand and treat diseases," they say.
Research has found that "education, race, socio-economic factors and fear all play a role in people's inclination and ability to volunteer for medical research," but those "perceptions could be changed when people were presented with more information and when logistical barriers to participation, such as transportation and child care, were addressed," according to Bennett and Dozier.
URMC has developed a Web site that "helps potential volunteers understand the importance and basics of clinical trials, learn how to participate in research, search a database of studies that are currently enrolling volunteers, and find answers to questions about safety, time commitment and compensation." In addition, the center has launched a public awareness campaign and opened a health library that teaches community members health issues and health research, according to Bennett and Dozier.
"The new Web site and public awareness are two elements of a multi-faceted approach to improve health research participation that includes efforts to build a network of community physicians and partnerships with community organizations," they write, concluding, "Improving health is a collective responsibility, and with this effort, we hope to stimulate a community dialogue about the value of research in improving the health of our community" (Bennett/Dozier, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 3/29).